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Euro festivities 2014 – enlargement of the euro area to Lithuania

Council of the European Union

23 July 2014, Brussels


Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Colleagues,


It is my great pleasure to greet today so many of Lithuania’s good friends.

I believe I can call you this. Not only because you found time to join us for the event. But also because — or rather because — we have been together in less festive circumstances as well.

For this reason many of you are familiar with Lithuania’s economy no less than we ourselves. And therefore, I will not spend time sharing memories about the severity of the crisis. Or how hard we had to tighten our belts and clench our teeth in order to emerge with the achievement and satisfaction that is today — I very much hope — bilateral.

We — the Lithuanian party — are happy to receive the official invitation, which at the same time is an official confirmation that our European orientation is focused, consistent and — irreversible. This message — keeping in mind our geographical location and current geopolitical situation — is all the more relevant.

I presume that today’s decision is equally good news for the inviting party as well. The euro area and the Banking Union are receiving a partner that is financially disciplined, responsible and — credible.

That has been proved. I mean both — during the recent five years and by our long-term monetary policy developments.

20 years ago — in 1994 — Lithuania established the currency board regime and in 2002 pegged its national litas to the euro. During the two decades we saw two dramatic shocks – the already forgotten Russian rouble crisis in 1998 and the recent global financial turmoil. And despite severe crunches and the following speculation, we have proven our abilities and commitment to maintain a stable exchange rate.

Euro adoption is the logical next step that will ensure even greater confidence in monetary policy, financial stability and contribute to steady economic growth.

Let me conclude by remembering a fresco that one can find in the Sainte-Pierre-le-Jeune church in Strasbourg. In this fresco, Lithuania is portrayed [according to the real factual data] as the last nation in Europe’s march to the cross and Christianity.

I sincerely hope and wish that in the history of the euro, Lithuania will not be the last.

Here I would like to make it clear: I do not identify religion with money. But nevertheless these two marches in my view have one thing in common — they both lead to deeper integration and, as a result, bigger benefits for us all.

Thank you all fellow-travellers in this journey.

 * * *

Attention to colleagues in Vilnius that watch our event! Now it is time to launch the clock starting the countdown to the euro in Lithuania.